Samuel Gandy, M.D., Ph.D. was recently featured in a Newsweek Web Exclusive article, entitled, “Are We Taking the Wrong Approach to Curing Alzheimer’s?” The article sheds light on the recent discovery of Russian antihistamine, dimebon, that not only stopped the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s but also reversed it, with benefits lasting up to at least a year. However, in studies unveiled at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna just a few months ago, dimebon was found to actually increase the amount of beta amyloid in the brain, the very molecule that was believed to be responsible for the disease.
For Newsweek, Dr. Gandy stated, “I would say that conventional wisdom in the field . . . is that an amyloid benefit would mean amyloid-lowering. Certainly, up until now, no one has been looking to treat Alzheimer’s by raising amyloid levels. [So] it was startling to observe that a compound with an apparently beneficial clinical effect on cognition caused acute elevation of amyloid beta levels in 3 out of 3 systems, in 2 labs.” One of the most obvious implications of this finding is that pharmaceutical companies that are hoping to discover amyloid-busting compounds may be taking the wrong approach. Although the data is still “not enough to make an educated guess,” the role of Dimebon in the world of Alzheimer’s research may continue to be an important research effort for the treatment of this disease.